Apple’s recent launch of the iPhone 15 series marks a significant step in the company’s gradual transition from the proprietary Lightning connector to USB-C for charging and data transfer. The iPhone is one of the last devices in Apple’s lineup to make this transition, a move likely influenced by strict EU regulations, although Apple claims it was a voluntary decision.
The iPhone 15 models now use a USB-C connector, a universally accepted standard for charging and transferring data. This allows the same cable to charge an iPhone, Mac, iPad, and the updated AirPods Pro (second generation). Users can also charge their AirPods or Apple Watch directly from their iPhone using the USB-C connector.
History: From Lightning to USB-C
Apple first introduced the Lightning connector with the iPhone 5 in September 2012, replacing the large and clunky 30-pin dock connector used in previous models. The Lightning cables were reversible and allowed for faster charging and data transfer. However, with the introduction of USB-C in 2014, which promised even faster transfer speeds, Lightning’s superiority was short-lived.
Lightning doesn’t strike twice for Apple
Despite having a fifth of the USB-C development team comprised of Apple engineers, Apple was slow to adopt this superior standard. This reluctance was likely due to a desire to keep customers locked into using its accessories.
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However, pressure from the EU, which aims to reduce e-waste by standardizing port/cable types, has forced Apple to change course. Apple had until the end of 2024 to complete this transition.
Technical Specifications: Speed and Compatibility
The USB-C connector on all iPhone 15 models can be used to connect to various USB-C-compliant devices. However, the Pro models support much faster data transfer speeds: 10Gbit/s vs. the base model’s 480Mbit/s over the older USB 2 standard.
All iPhone models support 20W charging, which is slower than many Android rivals.